So Gary, what happened?
What happened Dan, is I piled up today. Seriously piled up. Got myself a serious dose of road rash. 3 of my ribs are pretty painful, stiff neck and bruises. All things considered, I came through better then I thought I was going to.
What was the situation?
I was on the Bethpage trail coming back, and ummmm, I had decided to crank it up a couple of notches I was feeling pretty good. I had been pulling a ride with my neighbor Joe down the block. And this was my opportunity, since the trail was no where you can get lost, this was my opportunity to stretch the legs a little bit (and not lose Joe). So I was cranking along somehwere in the low 20's and I was in the zone, I was enjoying my pace and I was enjoying being in the zone.
So, what occured to take you out of the zone?
So I saw the bench coming up, the bench that is by the Southern State parkway Bridge. Might have been the first one.... Anyhow, there were 4 men sitting on the bench, then there was a couple walking their dog across the trail toward the men, since they were moving away form the trail, I thought, OK to yell or not to yell, what with the dog and the way folks some times kind of do the wrong thing, I decided "slipping by" was the best alternative, in that the couple was moving away from the path. But then the dog started acting frisky and the couple backed up a step or two. Well be now I am seriously braking, but it is basically too late. Then the dog gets spooked by something happening at the bench and he backs up directly into my line blocking the path completely.
What measures did you take to avoid a collision?
Braking, and riding the edge of the path, but when the dog backed into my path there was nothing I could do, we collided and I went over the bars!
What was the first thing that went through your mind after the initial impact?
My Helmet! The my Mirror then my Helmet Visor!
Actually this entire thing happened in slow motion like they all say it does, and I was aware of being airborne and flipping over, as I did so the thought went through my mind, Wow Gary you are really F---ed! Then the next thing I knew I was sliding along on my shoulder and side, and I was aware of the sounds... This sssshhhshssing as my spandex slid along the pavement, and my helmet slid along cradling my head which otherwise would have been making even worse noises. I heard my bike rattling down the path as we were separated and I recall hoping it would be ok, but realizing it would not! Then I took inventory, now this all happened in an instant before I stopped sliding even, and I realized, that I had the wind knocked out of me, but that all the limbs were where they were supposed to be and that I had tucked I guessed, and that all things considered I felt pretty much better than I thought I would. But I still hurt like heck! Then the crowd gathered as I rolled onto my back.
Is pavement more of salty snack or sweet treat?
The pavement is a salty treat! We had been keeping up a decent pace and the sweat just sort of filled my vision and yes I cold taste it too! There was nothing sweet about this other than being able to actually stand afterward.
So, who is at fault here? What could have been done to prevent the incident?
Well Dan, honestly I have to take the lion's share of the fault here! Quite simply I was riding too fast for the conditions on the path and particularly for this spot on the trail. This bench is frequently a congested area on the trail and sometimes kids hang out here and believe it or not, jump into the path of cyclists to spook them. But I was not thinking about safety or my surroundings I was focused upon my pace. Right up until it was too late! OK now, the folks who were there, contributed to the collision as well by being unaware of what was happening around them and they were not thinking of this as a high traffic trail, rather as a park walk, which is is not. But, and I know I have people who disagree with me here, it is my opinion that a bicyclist is fully responsible for their own safety! A Bike is an extremely maneuverable vehicle and an aware cyclist should be able to ride defensively enough to avoid collisions. If we ride in control, and stay aware we should be able to avoid 99% of the situations which cause collisions or accidents. OK some times things are just unavoidable, but generally if at least one of the people involved in an accident are paying attention the accident never happens. I was asleep at the switch!
Should bikes be allowed on the trails?
What are you kidding? Of course, the problem is not the trails, or the multi use aspect of them, it is the over crowding arising from the fact that there as so damn few of them. Nassau County is pathetically behind the times in terms of bike trails. OK, Cedar Creek, Bethpage, Hempstead Lake State Park. Valley Stream State Park, Jones Beach in the winter, Long Beach and Atlantic Beach Boardwalks, aside from that, are there any dedicated bike paths in Nassau county? Ok there may be a few potholed side streets that are declared so-called bike routes but most of them are actually more dangerous anyway. So should Bike be allowed on the paths, Absolutely!
I just can back from a visit to Chicago. Every single rail line, active or inactive has had bike paths installed along them. It's a local sport to race the commuter trains into the city! The busses have bike racks on the front. Virtually every river and park has DEDICATED Bike paths running along and through them. Fer crying out loud it is far safer and much more relaxing to ride in Manhattan than it is in Nassau County. I Kid You Not! Sorry for the rant Dan!
Would it be safer to have more on-road bike paths, in order to keep cyclists and pedestrians a safer distance apart?
For the experienced Roadie, Yes! But let's not forget that families like to ride, and honestly the way that local drivers seem to have the conceit that bicyclists have no place on the road I would be disinclined to bring my less experienced riders onto the roads, bike lanes or not! The drivers simply do not respect them (the bike lanes) and in Nassau County they have a way of suddenly disappearing without warning leaving you 6 inches of broken glass and debris where a bike lane used to be. This is why we run all our beginner rides on bike paths.
Who is your local politician and are they bike/pedestrian friendly or aware?
My local Nassau County Rep is Joe Scanell, and I have been really trying to meet with him to discuss precisely these topics, but as of yet I have not had the chance, although I have placed him on our mailing list. I don't know if he reads our newsletters or not. You bring up a good point here though and I really feel that it is important for bicyclists like us to become more politically involved as advocates for our sport. So many other areas of the country have been so successful in creating bike friendly cities and towns, we need to get more involved.